RAILS AND HOOVES: A lot of people grumble about parking lots. One of the main beefs is that the lot is too far from the attraction. But, if you've ever parked at El Tovar or Bright Angel Lodge -- the cabins rather than in front of the main building -- you know that isn't the case. It's a bit of a surprise, or even shock, when you walk but a few yards and find yourself at the lip of the Grand Canyon. Cars and the world's most famous canyon go way back, of course, but trains and animals have a longer history with the spot. Which is why Xanterra Parks & Resorts -- the company behind the aforementioned hotels -- recommends various ways to get to and around the Grand Canyon sans your own four wheels.
THE GRAND CANYON RAILWAY: It's a 62-mile trip due north from Williams, Arizona to the the Grand Canyon Depot. Here's an interesting fact about that particular famous building; it is a log depot, and there are only three log depots left in the U.S. If you're in your car at the canyon? Likely not seeing stuff like this. Also, Williams? Like one of the cutest small towns in Arizona. It's a sight dolled up at Christmas, but, let's be honest, Williams brings it all year long.
THE ABYSS OVERLOOK MULE RIDE: There's the longer trek down to Phantom Ranch via mules, the one everyone knows about and seems to be in every movie about the Grand Canyon; then there's the Abyss Overlook, which is a better option for visitors on a limited time schedule. It goes through a lot of ponderosa pine and stops for a short look into the canyon (so you're not actually going into the canyon). Two words: holiday photo. You on a beautiful mule.
BICYCLES: You can rent 'em through Bright Angel Bicycles. This is probably an option a lot of folks don't consider at all, but if you're an avid rider, and like to spin through that crisp, high-desert air, you can.
For more options on car-less canyon enjoyment, check out the Xanterra site.